The boy was in a coma and fighting for his life. Drugs could be deadly. Cleansed by Fire.

More chapters from Cleansed by Fire

A VG Serial: Cleansed by Fire

Chapter 26

Between meeting with the Faith Formation teachers and the fledging women’s guild, and then having two private consultations, it was after noon before Father Frank got back to the hospital to check on B.D. The priest’s spirits fell when he re­ceived the news. B.D. was in a coma. He had indeed overdosed on drugs, a particularly strong strain that attacked the nerves. Too much and it shut down some of the body’s systems. The doctor explained the details, but Father Frank was too dazed to follow.

“Because of his age, he has a chance of making it,” the doctor continued. “But from what we can tell, his system has been weakened by other drug use, or alcohol abuse, probably over a period of months. Right now, we can’t say whether he’ll survive or not.”

“When will you know—?”

“It will be at least a day or two, maybe more. Sorry to have to tell you that.”

Guilt reared up in Father Frank’s mind. “Doctor, would it have made any difference if he had been brought in ten minutes earlier? Before he blacked out completely?”

The doctor looked down, considered that for a few mo­ments, then looked back up at the priest. “Probably not. An hour earlier, I’d say probably yes. Ten, fifteen minutes? No. Why?”

Father Frank swallowed. “I didn’t act as quickly as I might. He could have been brought here five minutes faster.” He thought of Earl taking B.D. to Prince of Peace and not the hos­pital. “Maybe ten minutes.”

“My guess is he was not your responsibility. You brought him here and gave him a chance, one he didn’t give himself.”

The doctor fixed Father Frank with a stern look and gave an order as he might issue to a nurse. “Do not feel bad you didn’t react faster. This is not your fault. You made the situation better, not worse. Ten minutes wouldn’t change the outcome.”

All in all, the report left Father Frank depressed. The doc­tor said B.D.’s system was already weakened before this over­dose. He said he had a chance, but he didn’t say a good chance. The doctor wouldn’t even say B.D. would probably survive.

B.D. was a young kid who should have a life ahead of him. Drugs had ensnared him and now he was fighting to have a life at all.

Father Frank stopped in the hospital chapel and knelt to pray for B.D., to ask God to give him another chance. He thought of his childhood friend.

Don’t let B.D. lose to drugs, like Rick did.

Father Frank tried to take the doctor’s words to heart but guilt haunted his thoughts, like some grotesque gargoyle, threatening to devour his spirit.

You should have moved faster. You should have moved faster. You should have saved Rick.

***

On the drive home, Father Frank detoured by the service station to put fuel in the Taurus. He finished pumping the gas and was waiting for the machine to spit out the credit card slip when Harley Fewks skidded into the station. He got out of his truck, slammed the door and grabbed the diesel hose, ready to fill a five gallon can he held in his beefy hand. That’s when his gaze settled on Father Frank.

“Well, look who’s here. The sissy priest.”

Chapters of the serial are published on Monday, Thursday, and Sunday.

You can learn more about Cleansed by Fire and other James H. Callan novels on his Amazon Author Page.

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